Airline adds Duluth-to-Orlando service
Allegiant Air announced Wednesday that it will launch twice-a-week, direct-flight service between Duluth and Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 20. What's more, Allegiant revealed that it will kick off the service with a promotional one-way rate of $89.99, o...
Allegiant Air announced Wednesday that it will launch twice-a-week, direct-flight service between Duluth and Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 20.
What's more, Allegiant revealed that it will kick off the service with a promotional one-way rate of $89.99, offered only to customers who book travel before the end of the month.
"Then the fare skyrockets to $99.99," joked John Fenyes, one of Allegiant's founders now serving as the company's director of sales.
"We're excited, and we're looking forward to expanding service in Duluth," Fenyes said, noting that the city has proven a good market for Allegiant. The airline flew about 29,000 people out of Duluth last year.
Allegiant Air has been operating direct flights between Duluth and Las Vegas since January 2006, offering two flights per week during the summer and four round trips per week during the peak fall and winter months.
The Las Vegas flights regularly draw people to Duluth from Canada, the Bemidji area, St. Cloud, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and even the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, according to Brian Ryks, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority.
He said Allegiant's load factors for Duluth flights have consistently been running in the mid-90-percent range.
Ryks has been lobbying Allegiant to expand its service to Duluth for the past three years, and Orlando was at the top of his wish list.
"We wanted Orlando bad," Ryks said.
Orlando typically ranks as the third- or fourth-most-popular travel destination for people using Duluth International Airport, and he expects it to gain even greater favor when regular, direct service to the city becomes available.
"That's good news," said Tobias Rickmeyer of Hibbing upon learning of Allegiant's plans to offer direct service from Duluth to Orlando.
Rickmeyer was flying Wednesday from Duluth to a wedding in Washington, D.C., with his 4-year-old daughter, Kate, and 22-month-old son, Adam. He said he could see himself flying Allegiant to Orlando.
"We'll absolutely consider flying them, especially as the kids get a little older. It's so much better to get a direct flight, and I don't like driving to the Cities," he said.
Earl Rogers, owner of Duluth Travel Agency, said he fully expects Orlando to push Chicago out of its perch as the second-most popular travel destination from Duluth.
Allegiant plans to offer two round-trip flights per week aboard 150-seat MD-80 jets. The Orlando service would be scheduled on Mondays and Fridays, with flights leaving Duluth at 11:15 a.m. due to arrive in Orlando at 3:35 p.m.; and flights departing Orlando at 8 a.m. bound to arrive in Duluth at 10:35 a.m.
Ryks said he will continue to encourage Allegiant to consider additional service to Duluth and expressed special interest in Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles as promising prospects.
For his part, Fenyes said Allegiant always is exploring new opportunities.